It seems that with each passing week, Pittsburgh Steelers fullback Roosevelt Nix continues to surprise, in the sense that he continues to be a consistent contributor in the team’s special teams as well as offensive game plan, often seeing seven or eight, or even double-digit snaps, as he did in the last game.
It also seems that the Steelers are interested in becoming more conscious in masking what Nix is doing in the game, which is especially a concern given that it run the risk of telestrating the fact that the team plans to run. It does make sense, given that 37 of Nix’s 41 snaps have come with him as a run blocker.
Nix ran a pass play in each of the first two weeks, but has not since. However, in each of the past two weeks, the team has left him in there as a blocker for one pass play. Additionally, the Steelers lined up him on the line multiple times in the last game before motioning him into the backfield.
This is a long way of suggesting that the Steelers might be beginning to see Nix as a bit of a more long-term component than a guy who is here on a week-to-week basis when they make considerations about how he shows up on tape for opposing defenses.
Not that the hefty fullback is threatening to make the Pro Bowl, but the Steelers still like what he can do. He featured on their first play of the game, a run—predictably—for Le’Veon Bell, though it went for no gain. On this play, Nix actually bounced off the right tackle and ended up letting the linebacker squeeze through the gap to pressure Bell.
The Steelers started their second drive backed up at their own seven, so the Steelers presented a run look with a two-back set with a tight end. Instead, Mike Vick dropped back to pass, though he was sacked. Nix worked to his left to get to his spot, but the linebacker dropped, so the fullback unsuccessfully tried to help out his linemen.
Later on the drive, out of a 22 look, Nix pulled around left end, blasting Patrick Peterson to help open a crease for nine yards for Bell. The cornerback got himself airborne and Nix made him pay for doing so, taking him out of the play.
On the next play, Nix tried to cut down the safety, but he played the low block well, backing hit legs up while using his arms to push off, though the Cardinals front seven had already blown it up for a five-yard loss.
The Steelers began their first drive of the second half with Nix back on the field, this time attempting to cut block the outside linebacker, who was able to get out of the way quickly. What makes this play interesting, however, is that David DeCastro here pulled to the right. In doing so, he picked up that linebacker, opening up a lane for Bell to go for nine yards.
Nix came back on the next play to show both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness. The 250-pounder has the strength to root a defender out of a hole and drive him back with a sufficient head of steam, but he also lacks the coordination to stay on a block at an angle. On this play, he fell off the lead block after making strong initial contact, though it was more than sufficient to convert the short-yardage carry.
A similar occurrence arose on the first play of the Steelers’ next series, as he rooted a defender out of a hole, but then fell off the block, though this time it opened a hole for 11 yards. The offense moved away from him in the second half, though, as the game remained close.